Halstad, Norman County, Minnesota

Atlas of Norman County, 1907 Plat Map of Halstad

Photos of Halstad from about 1905 to 1940
Click to view larger image


New Halstad School 1905

Excerpts from Halstad, A Century of Memories, 1983

The early settlers who came to the Halstad area were mainly from Iowa and Southern Minnesota.  Some settled on their claims near the Red River and others near the Marsh River.  One of these was Ole Halstad who settled near the Marsh River about 6 miles east of the present city of Halstad in 1871.  The first post office was established in his home in 1872 with Mr. Halstad acquiring the duties as postmaster.  It is from him that Halstad got its name. Later the post office was moved into the present City of Halstad, where E. K. Brandt became postmaster.  He operated a general store, which contained the post office.  The post office safe was blown up in 1902, causing a loss of $125; and again in 1904, when a loss of $35 was sustained.  No clue to either robbery was ever discovered.

Erik K. Brandt first owned the original town site of Halstad by virtue of a patent from the U. S. Government, dated June 12, 1878.  It was sold to Solomon G. Comstock and Almond A. White and platted for them on Sept. 21, 1883.  Nine years later, on December 28, 1892, the village of Halstad was incorporated by action of the Norman County Board of Commissioners.  Dr. George Bennitt was the first mayor.

It was during this time that the Great Northern Railroad arrived in Halstad.  The railroad helped farmers get their harvest to market and bring them products to use in their farming.  The expansion of the railroad made it easier for people to travel to the area.  It was a time of rapid growth.

The Methodists established the first church built in 1889.  The Halstad Lutheran Church started in 1892 with services held in the school.  There were the following charter members at a meeting May 23, 1892: Messrs. and Mmes. Johannes Aaring, S. S. Moen, Johannes Melting (Leaunet), Jacob Leaunet, Iver Lien, G. K. Vikan, O. H. Viker, Knute Slette, Andreas Haagenson, Ole O. Landsem, Johannes Reitan, Arnt Melting, Eilert Johnson, Johannes Lyng, E. K. Brandt and Lars E. Norby.  A week later Mr. & Mrs. Mikkel Ranum joined the roster of charter members. Pastor A. O. Megrund accepted a call and conducted his first service Jun. 12, 1892.

Various business places were established at this time.  The Larson brothers stared a general store.  Following them were the Lien Store, the Halstad Mercantile Company, a lumberyard with A. C. Tvedt as manager, two elevators, two restaurants and a hotel.

Businesses advertising in November 1894 Halstad Reporter published by H. A. Sarley

  • Flogstad and Houske – Fresh and salt meats

  • Nels T. Moen – Attorney at Law

  • D. E. Kelly – Barber

  • C. Bennitt M. D. – Physician

  • Halstad Meat Market – Wm. B. Larson

  • J. Furuseth – General Blacksmithing

  • R. Olson – Hotel and Restaurant – 3rd Street

  • C. Helgeson – Tinsmith

  • State Bank of Halstad

  • Lewis Larson – dealer in wines and liquors – Main Street

  • Oyster Bay Restaurant – T. T. Kiland, prop.

  • F. L. Young – Lumber, lath, shingles, sand

  • Larson Brothers – general merchandise

  • T. A. Nelson – grocer

  • Eggen, Larson, and Slette Livery, Feed and Sale Stable (Successor to Larson and Swenson)

  • C. H. Anderson – Furniture and Carpets, Coffins and Caskets, Furniture made to order.

  • Ivar Lien

  • G. J. Gilbert – Drug Store

  • Dr. C. E. Onsgaard – Scandinavian Physician, Office: Scoby’s Drug Store, next to bank.

  • Sulerud Brothers

  • O. E. Flaten – branch studio at Halstad

  • Brandt and Jesme – dry goods

  • L. E. Nordby and Son – pioneer hardware store 

The first bank in town, known as the  “State Bank of Halstad” was established in 1892. This bank discontinued operations after a number of years, and another bank known as the “First National Bank of Halstad” was started in 1904.  It is now known as the “Red River State Bank of Halstad.”

The Halstad Mutual Fire Insurance Company was organized in May 1890, and has during the years provided insurance protection for the entire county of Norman and townships in adjoining areas.

The first newspaper published in Halstad in 1894 was the third publication in the county and was known as the “Halstad Reporter.”  W. A. Kelly, former superintendent of schools in Trail County, ND, edited it. This newspaper would evolve into the “Valley Journal” which is making a come back today.

The first medical service was given by Dr. Cleveland of Caledonia, ND.  The first resident doctor was Dr. George G. Bennitt, who practiced in Halstad until his death in 1893.  His brother, Carl Bennitt, succeeded him.

Here are more names of “Old Timers” as we often call them who helped create the village and area.  The following list was taken from the “Valley Journal” article written for the 1958 celebration.  John Grothe, Nels Hage, Aslak Hanson, Andrew and Henry Hawkins, O. A. Helgoe, Rasmus Larson, L.B. Larson, Engel Lovsness, Charles Obert, Ole E. Olson, J. L. Scheie, A.O. Serum, and Thodore and Hans Stennes.

The first two schools in the Halstad area were of log construction and were authorized by Polk County, which embraced this area at that time.  The first was built in 1874, a short distance southeast of the present town of Halstad. The 1874 school was the first school in Norman County, but it was a private subscription school.  The 1877 school was organized at the Engel Lausness (Lovsnes) home.  Officers elected to serve on the board were: Jacob Hesby, director; L. B. Larson, treasurer; and A. O. Serum, clerk.  Mrs. A.O. Serum was engaged as teacher with a salary of $12.00 per month.  This school would become District 9, which sat on the slough bank south of what was later known as Lovsnes Point.  This was the first school district to be formed in the county 

District 10 was the third school, but the second school district to be formed in the county, and it, too, was near Halstad. After county commissioners approved the petition for a school near the Marsh River, the first school meeting was held at the home of Ole. E. Olson. The following were elected: Ole E. Olson, director; Anthony Scheie, treasurer; and Ole Halstad, clerk. So a school house 16’x24’ was built on the northeast corner of Ole Halstad’s land. 

The local school district (Halstad Village) was organized in 1880 as District No. 39, but was reorganized in 1882 as District 18.   In 1884 still another schoolhouse came into existence.  It was a two-room frame building built on the west side of town.  Two teachers were employed one for the primary grades on the ground floor and one for the more advanced students who occupied the upstairs room.  The enrollment was about 80 pupils and ever growing so a two-room addition was built in 1894.  By 1902 the little frame building was no longer large enough for all the children so the Good Templar Hall was rented to supply needed classroom. 

By 1905 the school district had built a new two story, eight-room brick school house at a new school site. R. A. Hill was hired as superintendent, Elsie N. Everett as principal, and Mary Tillotson as teacher.  The first janitor in the new school was Andrew Ness. 

Through the years additions were built that added to the Halstad School. In 1939 a gym with stage was added, by 1951 a farm shop and a second addition to the high school, in 1961 a library, music room, and administrative offices were added, and in 1970 a new gymnasium as well as community rooms, weight rooms, and a couple small offices were added. 

The year 1982 brought many changes and a new look to the Halstad School.  A proposal was brought by the Hendrum-Perley School on pairing for the 1982-83 school year with Halstad.  On May 10, 1982, each district signed the pairing agreement.  Since the pairing agreement, both districts have voted and agreed to consolidation.  The school’s new name was to become Norman County West High and Norman County West Elementary.

Today Halstad is a progressive community.  The town has many new homes and businesses. The Red River State Bank and most recently the Halstad Telephone Company have updated their buildings in the downtown area. The Halstad Lutheran Memorial Home sits on the community’s east side and has recently added a care unit for Alzheimer’s patients.  The Heritage House assisted living housing has been added in the last year. 



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Last modified Friday February 04, 2005